Frequently Asked Questions
Criminal Records, Certificates & The Data Protection Policy of An Garda Siochana
Penalty Points: Information on Penalty Points can be obtained from www.penaltypoints.ie
- What does the name "An Garda Síochána" mean?
An Garda Síochána in English means "The
Guardians of the Peace".
- What is the personnel strength of the Force?
There are 12,265 members of An Garda Síochána
(as at 31.12.05). These are broken down per Rank as follows:
Total Male & Female
In addition, there are 1,645 civilian
support staff in both part-time and full time positions.
- What number should I ring when I need the
In an emergency situation, always dial 999 or
112. In less urgent situations, contact your local Garda Station.
- Do the Gardaí carry firearms?
Uniformed members of the Force do not carry
firearms. This has been the situation since 1922 when the first
Commissioner, Michael Staines, declared "The Garda Síochána will
succeed not by force of arms or numbers, but on their moral
authority as servants of the people".
There are approximately 1,700 Detective
Gardai around the country who carry firearms and always work in
plain clothes. These members work closely with their uniformed
colleagues and are available as armed backup whenever the need
We have a very low level of armed
crime in this country. As our Commissioner recently pointed
out we do not live in a "gun culture" society. Self defence
training forms part of our training at the Garda College. All
officers on patrol carry handcuffs and a baton for use against
- I want to E-Mail a Garda Station?
We do not have external e-mail facilities
for the general public to contact Garda Stations. If you wish to
contact a particular station please refer to our local stations page.
- How can I obtain old service records
of a parent/grandparent who served in the Garda Síochána?
Service Record details can be obtained
from the Garda Museum and Archives Section, telephone
00353-16669998 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Many
service records for the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin
Metropolitan Police are also available.
- I am receiving unsolicited offensive email
Please consult our advice page on offensive email
What is the legal status of electric/battery powered scooters
The use of these types of scooters has become very popular in recent years, especially with children. The legal position is that if one of these scooters can be powered by mechanical or electrical power alone, and does not require pedalling or scooting for propulsion, then the scooter is considered to be a mechanically propelled vehicle (MPV) in terms of road traffic legislation, irrespective of engine capacity. If such scooters are to be used in any public place, they require insurance and road tax as with any other MPV. The driver would also require a driving licence and is obliged to wear a crash helmet. If the user of such a scooter cannot fulfil these legal requirements, then the scooter should only be used on private property.
Where can I find out more about the Adult Caution Scheme?
The Adult Caution Scheme came into effect on 1st February 2006. A full explanatory note is available to download from our publications section.
What should I do if I receive a Fixed Charge Notice?
We hope that you will find the information contained here useful should you receive a Fixed Charge Notice (FCN).
Upon receipt of a FCN you should carefully read the document, as specific and detailed instructions are contained therein. This website information is intended to provide additional information which may assist you in understanding the contents of the FCN. The attached PDF document Fixed Charge Notice provides a sample notice.
An Garda Síochána is governed by legislation regarding the time periods for nominating drivers and accepting payments and no discretion is allowed with regard to extending same. A total of 56 days is permitted by law for the payment of a fixed charge. The initial period of 28 days from the date of the FCN allows for payment at the fixed charge amount. A further period of 28 days is permitted to accept payment at the fixed charge amount plus 50% of the fixed charge amount. After 56 days, payment cannot be accepted under any circumstances and the FCPS database is designed with the statutory time limits set to comply with the law.
Please note that this document is for guidance only and is not a legal document. It is designed to assist in resolving matters arising during the processing of FCNs and should not be read as an interpretation of the law.
Contacting the Fixed Charge Processing Office
By Telephone: 1890 30 40 60 (Ireland only)
+353 1 6668500 (Callers outside Ireland)
By Post: Fixed Charge Processing Office, 89-94 Capel Street, Dublin 1.
By e-mail: email@example.com
INFORMATION ABOUT THE FIXED CHARGE NOTICE.
This section of the notice explains the nature or type of offence the FCN has been issued for. It will contain the date, time, and location of the alleged offence, and the registration number of the vehicle involved. If the notice relates to an alleged speeding offence, this section will also include the speed recorded, and the speed limit. The time periods permitted commence from the date of the FCN and not the date of the offence.
Under current legislation, payment periods are as follows. From the date of issue of the notice (which is the date just below the reference number on the top right of the document), there is a 28 day period in which to pay the fixed charge amount. If the initial 28 day period elapses and the fixed charge amount is not paid, there is a second 28 day period where the fixed charge amount increases by 50%, e.g. if the initial fixed charge amount is €80, the increased fixed charge amount will be €120. If payment is not made within the 56 day period, court proceedings will be initiated by way of summons application. Legislation does not provide for payment of a fixed charge notice after 56 days.
The full FCN must accompany any payment. It is a legal requirement that the "Declaration Section" on a FCN for a penalty point offence (see footer on back of notice) be fully completed and signed in order for the payment to be processed.
Paying at a Post Office
You can pay by Cheque, Postal Order, Bank Draft, Cash or Laser card at any Post Office. It is advised that you have your driving licence with you when attending at a Post Office to discharge payment, so that any minor difficulties can be resolved while present in the Post Office.
When paying at a Post Office, Cheques, Postal Orders, and Bank Drafts should be made payable to "An Post".
Paying by Post
Postal payments must be addressed to An Garda Síochána, P.O. Box 55, Kilrush, Co Clare only. A pre-addressed envelope is enclosed with the FCN. Payment may be made by Cheque, Postal Order, Bank Draft, Cash, Credit Card or Laser Card. Payment cannot be made by Debit Card (other than Laser Card) as our payment agent cannot currently process Debit Cards.
When paying by post, Cheques, Postal Orders, and Bank Drafts should be made payable to "Member in Charge".
Please pay postage to ensure arrival.
Payments Not To Be Sent to Fixed Charge Processing Office
By law payment can only be made in the manner specified in the FCN i.e. at an An Post office or by post to An Garda Síochána, P.O. Box 55, Kilrush, Co. Clare. Payments cannot be accepted in the Fixed Charge Processing Office. Any payments sent to the Fixed Charge Processing Office will be forwarded to the payments office in Kilrush.
One Cheque per Payment
Only one cheque for the full amount will be accepted per payment. If payment is sent in the form of two cheques for separate amounts, it will be rejected. This is to avoid situations where one of the furnished cheques is dishonoured while the other is accepted, thus leading to a part-payment of the fixed charge, which is not permitted under the legislation.
Adjustment of Credit/Laser Card Payment
When paying by Credit or Laser Card, where an incorrect amount has been indicated by you, the correct amount will be charged to your card. Please note that payment by Credit Card or Laser Card will appear on your Statement as "Billpay - An Post". This reflects that the payment was processed by An Post on behalf of An Garda Síochána.
Copy of Driving Licence
In order to validate driving licence numbers entered on FCNs as part of the payment process, An Garda Siochana utilises data provided by the Department of Transport. It is strongly recommended that a photocopy of the driving licence is provided to assist in payment processing. This is to avoid delays where licence details are unclear or a conflict exists between the data provided on the FCN and the Department of Transport data. In order to assist in the validation process, in the case of Non-Irish Driving Licences, a photocopy of the licence must be provided in order for the payment to be processed.
Driving licence number: The number required is the number in black print on the first page of the licence, to the left of the photograph. The number in red print is not a driving licence number.
Name (AS IN LICENCE)
The declaration section requires the driver to fill in their full name, as per their driving licence, in the spaces provided. For example, if the name on the notice is John Smith, and the drivers licence gives the name as John Patrick Smith, the second name must be filled in the "Declaration Section", i.e. John Patrick Smith. If this is filled in incorrectly, payment will not be accepted.
If you were not driving, or otherwise using the vehicle on the date of the offence, the "Statement of Nomination of Name and Address of Driver of Vehicle" section on the FCN must be completed by the registered owner, not the driver, and the full notice returned to the Fixed Charge Processing Office. Under current legislation, a notice containing the completed "Statement of Nomination of Name and Address of Driver of Vehicle" section must be completed and sent to the Fixed Charge Processing Office within 28 days of the date of the notice. Nominations sent after 28 days cannot be processed and the FCN remains the responsibility of the registered owner.
In the case of Penalty Point offences, if the registered owner of the vehicle is a company, or a person trading as a company, the only requirement on the registered owner is to nominate the person who was driving the vehicle at the time of the offence.
If the offence is a Non Penalty Point offence, the registered owner may pay the fixed charge as outlined in the notice, without having to nominate a driver.
If you are nominating someone who is under 18 years of age, the date of birth must be filled in on the nomination section, and a copy of the birth certificate sent in with the nomination.
No Payment with Nomination
No payments are required when making a nomination, as a new FCN will be issued to the driver. The 56 day payment period will begin again from the issue date of the new notice.
Correct Nomination Required
The full name and address of the person using the vehicle at the time of the offence must be provided by the registered owner. Care must be taken to nominate the correct driver as falsely nominating a person is a serious offence and may lead to a prosecution.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is responsible for the allocation of Penalty Points. After payment of a Penalty Point offence, a letter of "Notification of the Allocation of Penalty Points" will then be issued by post from the RSA confirming the allocation of Penalty Points on your driving licence record, and the date of commencement of the points. Each set of Penalty Points accrued lasts for 3 years beginning 28 days from the date of the notification from the RSA, not the offence date. If, within a 3 year period, you receive 12 Penalty Points, you will incur a disqualification from driving for 6 months. Any queries on Penalty Points should be made to the RSA at 1890 20 20 21.
If it has been alleged that you have committed multiple Penalty Point offences in the same incident, only the highest value Penalty Points will be recorded on your driving licence record, e.g. if you pay two FCN for having "Crossed a Continuous White Line", which carries 1 Penalty Point on payment, and "Failure to Wear a Safety-Belt", which carries 2 Penalty Points on payment, in the same incident, you will receive 2 Penalty Points for that incident.
For a list of Penalty Point offences, see www.penaltypoints.ie
If you are convicted of a fixed charge offence, the fine is paid to the Court Service, not the Fixed Charge Processing Office.
Requirement to Produce Licence in Court
If you are appearing before a court for a road traffic offence, you must bring your driving licence to court, and present it to the court clerk for recording of the driver number.
Enquiries in relation to a Fixed Charge Offence
If you feel there has been an error with any details on the Fixed Charge Notice, then you should contact the Fixed Charge Processing Office by telephone at 1890 30 40 60 within the Republic of Ireland or +353 1 6668500 from outside the jurisdiction or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org where you will be advised by a member of staff regarding your enquiry.
Please note: While such enquiry is being processed, the time periods involved for payment and nomination purposes as outlined in the FCN are not suspended. This means that the time continues during the period that the enquiry is being conducted. Any problems or difficulties highlighted by the enquiry must be acted upon immediately by the person named in the FCN and contact made with the Fixed Charge Processing Office as soon as practical.
If you have misplaced, lost or damaged your FCN, contact the Fixed Charge Processing Office at 1890 30 40 60, or via email to email@example.com, and a re-print of the notice will be sent to you by post. Please note again that time continues even when a re-print request is submitted.
This facility is only available for camera speeding detections (i.e. Fixed Charge Notice where reference number begins S00….). The applicable Notices are identified by a cropped photograph of the registration number of the vehicle on the top right of the FCN, just below the reference number of the notice. If you wish to request an enlarged copy of the photograph, it must be made in writing, by fax to 01-6668544, by post to the Fixed Charge Processing Office, Thurles, Co. Tipperary or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The photograph will then be issued by post. Such requests can only be processed for the registered owner or the nominated driver.
The primary purpose of photographs is to identify the offending vehicle, and not the driver. The identification of the driver is the responsibility and legal requirement placed on the registered owner of the vehicle. These photographs are not used to identify drivers, but in some cases, this may be possible. Care must be taken to nominate the correct driver in each instance.
Juvenile Diversion Programme
If the recipient of a Fixed Charge Notice is under 18 years of age on the date of the offence, he/she is entitled to be considered for inclusion in the Juvenile Diversion Programme (JDP). The recipient of the notice should send a photocopy of the notice, along with a photocopy of their birth certificate, and a letter requesting inclusion in the JDP, to the Fixed Charge Processing Office, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, immediately, so that consideration can be given for inclusion in the JDP. Any request received without a copy of a Birth Certificate will not be processed and will be rejected. A Birth Certificate is the only acceptable form of age identification.
Frequently Asked Questions relating to our Fixed Charge Policy
1. I have received a Fixed Charge Notice. I am the registered owner of the vehicle, but was not driving at the date and time of the alleged offence. What do I do?
A: On the reverse of the notice you must fill out the "Statement of Nomination of Name and Address of Driver of Vehicle" section with the name and address of the driver of the vehicle on the date of the offence and return it to the Fixed Charge Processing Office within 28 days of the date of the FCN. No payment should be returned at this time, as a new notice will be issued to the driver. It is the responsibility of the registered owner, not the driver, to complete the FCN.
2. My vehicle is owned by a company. I was driving the car, can I pay?
As the notice is addressed to the company, the company is responsible for the notice. Please see 3 below.
3. The company has received a Fixed Charge Notice, what do we do?
A: Please read the FCN carefully. If the FCN is for a penalty point office the "Statement of Nomination of Name and Address of Driver" section must be completed by the company with the name and address of the driver of the vehicle on the date of the offence and returned to the Fixed Charge Processing Office within 28 days of the date of the FCN. No payment should be returned at this time, as a new notice will be issued to the driver. It is the responsibility of the company, not the driver, to complete the FCN.
If the FCN is for a non-penalty point offence there are two options:-
(i) The company may complete the "Statement of Nomination of Name and Address of Driver" with the name and address of the driver of the vehicle on the date of the offence and returned to the Fixed Charge Processing Office within 28 days of the date of the FCN. No payment should be returned at this time, as a new notice will be issued to the driver. It is the responsibility of the company, not the driver, to complete the FCN.
(ii) The company may pay the fixed charge at a Post Office displaying the An Post logo or may pay by post using the pre-printed envelope to An Garda Síochána, P.O. Box 55, Kilrush, Co. Clare.
4. I have received a Fixed Charge Notice, but had sold my vehicle prior to the date of the alleged offence, what do I do?
A: You should provide documentary proof from either the Department of Transport (1890 411 412), or the Motor Taxation office, stating that you were not the owner on the date of the offence, and giving the date of sale of your vehicle.
An Garda Síochána relies on vehicle licensing data supplied by the Department of Transport and it is crucial that the sale of a vehicle is notified immediately in accordance with the instructions contained on the vehicle licensing certificate.
5. I am of the view the Fixed Charge Notice was issued in error, what can I do?
A: Contact the Fixed Charge Processing Office at 1890 30 40 60, quoting either your reference number, or the registration number of the vehicle involved, and a member of staff will assist you in dealing with your query. This should be done as soon as possible, as the legal time period allowed for payment of the notice is not suspended while dealing with your query.
In all instances you may allow the process to proceed to prosecution where you will be entitled to express your defence to the presiding Judge.
6. Where do I pay my Fixed Charge Notice?
A: You can pay your Fixed Charge Notice in person at any post office displaying the An Post logo, or you may pay by post using the pre-printed envelope to An Garda Síochána, P.O. Box 55, Kilrush, Co. Clare. Please note that payments are not accepted at the Fixed Charge Processing Office.
7. How can I pay?
A: By Post: You can pay by cheque, postal money order, bank draft, credit card or laser card using the pre-printed envelope to An Garda Síochána, P.O. Box 55, Kilrush, Co. Clare. Only one cheque/bank draft for full amount per payment is acceptable. Mixed payment types cannot be accepted e.g. a cheque and a postal money order for the total amount. You should make the cheque payable to 'Member in Charge'.
In person at a Post Office: You can pay by cash, cheque, bank draft, or laser card. Cheques should be made payable to "An Post".
8. I was away on holidays when the Fixed Charge Notice arrived and the 56 day period has elapsed, what can I do?
A: The legislation does not allow for a payment after the 56 day period has elapsed. After this period a summons application is made. This is an automatic procedure which cannot be interrupted. You will be entitled to inform the presiding Judge of the circumstances.
9. I lost my Fixed Charge Notice and want to pay, what can I do?
If you have misplaced, lost or damaged your FCN, contact the Fixed Charge Processing Office by telephone 1890 30 40 60, or via email to email@example.com, and a re-print of the notice will be sent to you by post. The legal time period allowed for payment is not altered by a request for a re-print of a FCN.
10. How do I find out how many Penalty Points I have on my driving licence?
A: To find out how many Penalty points are on your driving licence record, contact the Road Safety Authority at 1890 20 20 21, and quote your driving licence number.
- How do I join the Garda Síochána?
How to Apply
The model of recruiting for Garda Trainee is changing. It is possible to register your interest in the Garda Trainee position throughout the year and apply for one of a number of recruitment cycles. These will be held at regular intervals on an ongoing basis and are likely to involve a number of recruitment cycles during any given year. Having applied, candidates will be contacted on a periodic basis and invited to book a time and date to attend for Stage 1 assessment. The number of applicants in each group will be limited and controlled on a first come, first served basis. However those who do not manage to gain entry to a particular group will be treated as a priority applicant in subsequent cycles and contacted as future groups are scheduled for assessment tests.
To receive notification of forthcoming Garda Trainee recruitment campaigns as they arise you must register as a member of www.publicjobs.ie and click on 'My Job Alerts', select 'Security/Emergency Services', then 'Garda'.
Those who register will be notified by email when a campaign is open. At that stage you will be invited to make an application on www.publicjobs.ie .www.publicjobs.ie
Applicants will be permitted to undergo elements of the selection process only once within any six month period.
You should note that registering as a member does not constitute an application. Applications should be made for individual campaigns as and when they arise.
Persons interested in a career in the Garda Síochána can attend the Open Days at the Garda College. These were held this year on 24th May 2007 and 20th September 2007. Further Open Days will be advertised.
- What are the
educational requirements ?
Candidate must have obtained, in the Leaving Certificate Examination:
(a) A grade not lower than B3 at Foundation Level or D3 at another level in Mathematics, and
(b) A qualifying grade in two languages, one of which must be English or Irish, as follows:
English: a grade not lower that D3 at Ordinary Level,
Irish : a grade not lower than C3 at Foundation Level or D3 at another level,
Other language : a grade not lower than D3 at Ordinary Level, and
(c) A grade not lower than D3 at Ordinary Level, in not less than two other subjects
The Merit Grade in the Applied Leaving Certificate,
Like Grades in another examination, which, in the opinion of the Minister for Justice, Equality& Law Reform, is not of a lower standard than the above.
- How do I join the Garda Reserve?
Application can be made online at www.publicjobs.ie
Please consult our website page on the Garda Reserve and further information on working with the Reserve is available at:
Garda Reserve Regulations
Garda Reserve Information Booklet
- Is there a height
The requirement to
be of a specific height has been removed and replaced with a
physical competency test.
What are the physical
candidates at Stages 1 and 2 of the selection process will also be
required to undergo an exacting medical examination by a
Registered Medical Practitioner nominated by the Commissioner of
An Garda Síochána.
Such candidates must be of good mental and
bodily health and free from any defect or abnormality likely to
interfere with the efficient performance of their duties.
Any of the following examples of medical
conditions may be a bar to passing the medical examination:
- Defective Vision (the vision standard
required of a Garda trainee is not less than 6/18, 6/18 (correctable to 6/9, 6/12) unaided by glasses or contact lenses, with normal colour vision).
- Varicose veins
- Dental Caries
- Defective Hearing
I normally wear
The vision standard
requirement of a Garda trainee is Binocular Vision of not less
than 6/18, 6/18 (correctable to 6/9, 6/12) unaided by glasses or contact lenses, with normal color
Can a police officer from another Country
transfer to the Garda Siochana?
No there is no
internal transfer process. You must go through the normal
What is the recruitment
Selection will be by means of a three
stage process as follows:
Stage 1: Will comprise of three written
Test 1: Verbal evaluation
Test 2: Analytical Reasoning
Test 3: Job Simulation Exercise
Stage 2: Will include elements like a
written communication exercise and an interview.
Stage 3: Will include a medical
examination and may also include a physical ability test
The tests at Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the
selection process will be based on the skills/qualities that have
been shown to be necessary for effective performance as a member
of the Garda Siochana. All candidates called to Stage 1 and Stage
2 will receive familiarisation and preparation material in
Can a citizen from any country join?
Applicants to join must be:
(a) A national of a European Union Member State, or
(b) A national of an EEA State or the Swiss Confederation, or
(c) Be a refugee under the Refugee Act, 1996, or
(d) Have a period of one year's continuous residence in the State immediately before the 1st September, 2005 and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the State amounting to four years. (Periods of illegal residence or residence as an asylum seeker do not count in the qualifying five year period).
- How does one get into a specialist area, like
drugs squad, mounted unit etc?
members of the Force must spend at least three years on normal
uniformed policing duties. After that, they are free to apply for
any vacancies which may arise in specialist areas. Each
section will have its own unique selection procedures.
What is the new Physical Competence Test
The Physical Competence Test has replaced the former requirement that applicants be of a particular height. You can view a short video which shows the test here.
How do I apply for information held on Garda
Subject to certain exemptions, you have a
right to be told whether any information is held about you and a
right to a copy of that information. The Garda Commissioner will
only furnish you with that information if he is satisfied of your
identity. You are only entitled to receive information that is
personal to you.
An Garda Siochana do not issue documents
variously described as "certificates of good conduct" or
"clearance certificates" under the Data Protection Act, 1998 . It
should therefore be noted that the exercise of your rights under
the subject access provisions of the Data Protection Act, 1988,
will not provide you with a certificate of this nature. The Act
does not provide a clearance or vetting procedure for employment
or other purposes
The Garda Commissioner may deny access to
information where the Act allows, but the main exemptions in
relation to information held on Garda computers are where the
information is held for:
- The prevention, detection and
investigation of crime
- The apprehension of prosecution of
and giving you the information would
be likely to prejudice any of these purposes.
There is a €6.35 fee in respect of a
subject access request made under the Act. Cheques, Postal Orders
and Bank Drafts should be made payable to "The Accountant
Department of Justice" Cash should not be forwarded with
applications. We regret that we are unable to accept foreign
currency, cheques, or postal orders.
An application for information should be
forwarded to the following address.Inspector in Charge,
Garda Central Vetting Unit,
The Central Vetting Unit can be contacted by telephone 00353-50427300 or by Fax 00353-50427373.
How do I obtain a Police
Police Certificates are issued only for the attention of Consular
Authorities and for Foreign Adoptions Boards. They are not issued for
employment or any other purpose. They can however be issued when being used for the purposes of establishing, or registering, a business in another EU Member State.
Where to apply:-
- Persons resident in the Republic of Ireland - apply
to your local Garda Station
- Persons resident outside of Ireland - apply in
writing (by post) to the Superintendent in charge of the
District covering the area of
your principal place of residence while living in the Republic
Details to be
Full name as on birth certificate
(including maiden/married name if applicable)
Date and place of birth (or copy of birth
All addresses at which you resided in
Republic of Ireland
Purpose (i.e. Embassy) for which
Certificate is required
Stamped, self addressed envelope if
applying to local Garda Station
- There is no fee for the issue of a
- Issue of a Police Certificates can take
up to 4 weeks depending on the particular
What is the Data Protection Policy of An Garda Siochana?
Code of Practice for An Garda Síochána. 1. FOREWORD Data Protection Commissioner
2. INTRODUCTION Commissioner of An Garda Síochána
4. RULES OF DATA PROTECTION THAT MUST BE ADHERED TO
5. AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY
6. AUDITS OF DATA PROTECTION PROCEDURES WITHIN
AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA
7. ENFORCEMENT OF DATA PROTECTION LEGISLATION
I am very happy to be able to formally approve this Code of Practice under
the terms of Section 13 of the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003.
The Code is the result of intensive work by the Garda Commissioner and
his staff, working in close co-operation with my Office. It is designed to
give operational meaning to the principles of data protection set out in
European and National law.
I am confident that the Code will make a significant contribution to
improving knowledge and understanding of data protection within An
Garda Síochána. I intend to continue to work closely with the Garda
Commissioner and his staff to ensure that the guidance set out in the
Code is followed in daily practice.
Data Protection Commissioner
We live in an information age and information in the form of data is
essential to the business of policing. We all have a responsibility to use
the information we gather both effectively and ethically. There is a fine
balance between individual privacy and public safety.
In order to maintain public confidence in An Garda Síochána and the
delivery of our service to the community, we must ensure that we work
to the highest attainable standards. Our integrity includes both the way
in which we, as members of An Garda Síochána and those of us working
in the policing environment, conduct ourselves and the way in which we
ensure the data we hold is compliant with relevant legislation.
The Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 have a significant role to play
in supporting operational policing. The aim of this Code of Practice is
to ensure each employee of An Garda Síochána has an understanding of
the concepts of Data Protection and is aware of their own responsibilities.
This, in turn, will assist An Garda Síochána in its compliance as an
Protecting our data is common sense. We need to ensure that data
gathered and processed by An Garda Síochána is compliant with Data
Protection Legislation. The reading and understanding of this Code by
all employees of An Garda Síochána will go a long way towards meeting
Data Protection is the safeguarding of the rights of all individuals to
privacy and integrity in relation to the processing of their personal data.
The Data Protection Acts 988 and 00 confer rights on individuals as
well as responsibilities on those persons handling, processing, managing
and controlling personal data.
Data means information in a form, that can be processed. It includes
both automated or electronic data and manual data.
Automated Data means, broadly speaking, any information on computer,
or information recorded with the intention of putting it on computer.
Examples of this are entries on the PULSE System or any other electronic
Manual Data means information that is kept as part of a relevant filing
system, or with the intention that it should form part of a relevant filing
system. Examples of this are all traditional paper files such as investigation
files and reports and statements as well as personnel and financial records
and duty rosters prepared as part of normal operational duties.
Relevant Filing System means any set of information that, while not
computerised, is structured by reference to individuals, or by reference to
criteria relating to individuals, so that specific information relating to a
particular individual is readily accessible. Examples of this in An Garda
Síochána are Filing Systems for Court and Investigation Files, Fogra
Tora, Bulletins, Bulletins issued by Criminal Intelligence Officers, etc.
Personal data in the context of the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003,
means data relating to a living individual who is or can be identified
either from the data or from the data in conjunction with other information
that is in, or is likely to come into, the possession of the data controller.
Examples of this are any report, statement, file or electronically recorded
entry from which a living individual can be identified. An individual
may also be identified by a unique pseudonym, a nickname, or some
other characteristic or feature unique to them. In addition, it may also
include a car registration held by An Garda Síochána and relating to a
person. It also includes communications data (excluding content) and IP
addresses held by An Garda Síochána and relating to a person.
The Data Protection Acts do not apply to data that is anonymised to
remove any personal data from it.
Access Request is where a person makes a request to An Garda
Síochána for the disclosure of their personal data under section 4 of the
Acts. Responses issued under the Data Protection Acts to Data Subjects
should not be construed as Garda Vetting, Character Reference, Security
Clearance or any interpretation of same.
Sensitive personal data relates to specific categories of data which are
defined as data relating to a person's racial origin; political opinions or
religious or other beliefs; physical or mental health; sexual life; criminal
convictions or the alleged commission of an offence or trade union
membership. Examples of this are files or entries containing details of
allegations, prosecutions or convictions with regard to an individual.
This type of Data would form a large portion of the overall Database held
by An Garda Síochána.
Processing means performing any operation or set of operations on data,
Obtaining, recording or keeping the data,
Collecting, organising, storing, altering or adapting the data,
Retrieving, consulting or using the data,
Disclosing the data by transmitting, disseminating or otherwise
making it available,
Aligning, combining, blocking, erasing or destroying the data.
This, in effect, means that every time a member of An Garda Síochána
records an entry in their personal notes such as their notebook, on an
official record such as the Custody Record; on a manual file such as a
statement of evidence or incident investigation file; or on a computerised
database such as PULSE, regarding a living individual or individuals
who can be identified from the data, the said member is deemed to be
processing the data.
Data Subject is an individual who is the subject of personal data.
Data Processor is a person who processes personal information on behalf
of a data controller, but does not include an employee of a data controller
who processes such data in the course of his/her employment. For the
purposes of the Act this means organisations to which An Garda Síochána
out-sources work, such as the payment of fixed charge fines through An
Post. The Act places responsibilities on such entities in relation to their
processing of the data.
The Data Controller for the purpose of these Acts is the Commissioner
of An Garda Síochána
PULSE is an acronym for Police Using Leading Systems Effectively.
Pulse is an I.T. enabled Service Delivery Project. Pulse comprises of 17
operational and integrated system areas. e.g. Crime Recording, Processing
of Prisoners and Traffic Management.
Employee Means a member of An Garda Siochana, a Reserve member of
An Garda Siochana, all staff under the direction and control of the Garda
Commissioner under Section 19 of the Garda Siochana Act 2005 and also
including members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland who have
been seconded to An Garda Siochana under Section 52 and 53 of the
Garda Siochana Act 2005.
4. DATA PROTECTION RULES AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA MUST
1. Obtain and process information fairly
2. Keep it only for one or more specified, explicit and lawful
3. Use and disclose it only in ways compatible with these purposes
4. Keep it safe and secure
5. Keep it accurate, complete and up-to-date
6. Ensure that it is adequate, relevant and not excessive
7. Retain it for no longer than is necessary for the purpose or
8. Give a copy of his/her personal data to the relevant individual, on
4.1. Obtain and process data fairly and lawfully
An Garda Síochána is legally entitled to obtain and process personal data,
without the consent of the data subject in circumstances where personal
data is obtained or kept for the purposes of preventing, detecting, or
investigating offences, or apprehending or prosecuting offenders, where
the seeking of such consent would be likely to prejudice these purposes.
In all other circumstances to fairly obtain data the data subject must, at
the time the personal data is being collected, be made aware of:
the identity of the data controller,
the purpose in collecting the data,
the persons or categories of persons to whom the data may be
any other information which is necessary so that processing may
To fairly process personal data it must have been fairly obtained in line
the data subject must have given consent to the processing or
the processing must be necessary for one or more of the
following reasons and any one or more will apply to the
performance of the functions of An Garda Síochána;
to prevent injury or other damage to the health of a data
to prevent serious loss or damage to property of the data
to protect the vital interests of the data subject
where the seeking of the consent of the data subject
is likely to result in those interests being damaged,
for the administration of justice,
for the performance of a function conferred on a person
by or under an enactment,
for the performance of any other function of a public
nature performed in the public interest by a person.
There will be circumstances when the purpose of information or data to be used
is obvious. On other occasions it may be necessary to provide an explanation
to the individual. An example of this would be where a Garda will seek the
consent of victim(s) of crime to pass their details on to an organisation such
as Victim Support or other similar support or research group.
In certain situations an individual has little option other than to supply information to An Garda Síochána for policing purposes. In such circumstances it may be necessary for the Garda member to notify the individual of any non obvious use of that information and take into account the individual's wishes regarding any additional use of the data.
The individual should be informed that a statement may be used during
any subsequent proceedings.
4.2 Keep it only for one or more specified, explicit and lawful
An Garda Síochána may only keep data for a purpose/s that are specific,
lawful and clearly stated and the data should only be processed in a manner
compatible with the purpose. An individual has a right to question the
purpose for which An Garda Síochána holds his/her data and An Garda
Síochána must be able to identify that purpose.
An Garda Síochána holds information for a variety of purposes. Much
of this information is held for the investigation, detection and prevention
of offences while other information such as the Keyholders Register,
Administrators of Neighbourhood Watch Schemes, and the Electoral
Register for instance are held for the performance of functions of a public
nature and can only be used for these purposes.
It is also the case that An Garda Síochána obtains and processes personal
data in the context of the administration of the organisation. Such data
includes data required within an internal management context such as
the personnel files of all employees of An Garda Síochána, duty details,
operational directives and financial claims. All such information must be
obtained and processed in compliance with the Acts and is not subject to
the exemptions in the Act for the obtaining and processing information
for the investigation or preventing of a criminal offence.
4.3 Use and disclose data only in ways compatible with these
Disclosure in the context of data protection is the provision of personal data
to a third party by any means whether written, verbally or electronically.
The Act places serious responsibilities on every employee of An Garda
Síochána not to disclose data in relation to any individual to any other
individual who is not entitled by law to receive it. Personal Data is
used within An Garda Síochána in the normal course of operational
Any use or disclosure must be necessary for the purpose/s or compatible
with the purpose/s for which the data is collected and kept. An employee
of An Garda Síochána making a disclosure should consider whether the
data subject would be surprised to learn that a particular disclosure is
taking place. If the potential answer to this question is yes then there is a
need to question the basis for the disclosure prior to making it.
In all cases the identity of the recipient of the disclosure should be
established along with the specific purpose of the disclosure and the legal
basis/power to disclose the relevant data. A record of all disclosures
should be maintained. In cases where there is any doubt as to disclosure,
or the status of the data concerned, a file should be submitted to Assistant
Commissioner, Crime and Security for directions.
Examples of legitimate disclosures are;
disclosures of information held by An Garda Síochána to Law
Officers, other Law Enforcement Agencies for the investigation,
prevention and detection of offences, on the basis of Mutual
Assistance Agreements, Interpol, Europol. To the Health Service
Executive in respect of Child Welfare issues, etc. The Courts
Service and other agencies with a statutory investigative/
enforcement role, etc,
a member of An Garda Síochána providing the registered owner
details of a car to an injured party under the provisions of the
Road Traffic Act or to a person legitimately representing their
statements or information issued to the media which are managed
within An Garda Síochána's Media Strategy as established
within the terms of An Garda Síochána Code Chapter 17 entitled
Accessing or Disclosing personal data for any purpose other than that
for which it was obtained is prohibited. Examples of this would be an
employee of An Garda Síochána:
accessing and/or disclosing details of the owner of a motor
vehicle, the knowledge of which the employee had obtained as a
consequence of their role within An Garda Síochána, to any other
member of the public without the consent of the owner of the
vehicle and where there is no legal basis for the disclosure,
accessing and/or disclosing details of any person's criminal
convictions to a party not entitled to receive it, the knowledge of
which the employee had obtained from PULSE, or other Garda
Databases, another employee of An Garda Síochána, without a
business need to be aware of the information and without the
consent of the person who is the subject of the conviction,
accessing details of a person on PULSE for their own personal use.
Members found to be in breach of this provision, may be committing an
offence under the Garda Síochána Act 2005; the Garda Complaints Act
1986 and An Garda Síochána Discipline Regulations. Furthermore such
members may be exposing themselves and the organisation to litigation
from an injured party and proceedings against An Garda Síochána under
the Data Protection Acts.
Disclosure through transferring personal data abroad
There are special conditions that have to be met before transferring
personal data outside the European Union, where the receiving country
does not have an EU approved level of data protection law. At least one
of the following conditions must be met in that the transfer is:
consented to by the data subject,
required or authorised under an enactment, convention or other
instrument imposing an international obligation on this State,
examples: Europol Act 1997, Schengen Agreement 1999 and the
European Convention for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters
1959, as amended,
necessary for the purpose of obtaining legal advice,
necessary to urgently prevent injury or damage to the health of a
part of the personal data held on a public register,
authorised by the Data Protection Commissioner, which is
normally the approval of a contract which is based on an EU model,
the transfer is necessary for reasons of substantial Public Interest.
4.4 Keep Data safe and secure
Appropriate security measures must be taken against unauthorised access
to, or alteration, disclosure or destruction of, personal data and against
their accidental loss or destruction. The security of personal information
is all-important, but the key word here is appropriate, in that it is more
significant in some situations than in others, depending on such matters
as confidentiality and sensitivity and the harm that might result from an
unauthorised disclosure. High standards of security are, nevertheless,
essential for all personal information. The nature of security used may
take into account what is available, the cost of implementation and the
sensitivity of the data in question.
The standard of security expected of all employees of An Garda Síochána
includes the following:
access to the information restricted to authorised staff on a "need-to-
know" basis in accordance with a defined policy,
computer systems password protected,
information on computer screens and manual files kept hidden from callers to offices,
back-up procedures in operation for computer held data, including off-site back-up,
all waste papers, printouts, etc. disposed of carefully by shredding,
all employees must log off from PULSE and other computers on
each occasion when they leave the workstation,
personal security passwords must not be disclosed to any other
employee of An Garda Síochána,
all Garda premises to be secure when unoccupied,
a designated person will be responsible for all the above within
An Garda Síochána with periodic reviews of the measures and
practices in place.
Every contact on PULSE leaves a trace and every employee should be
acutely aware that all activity under their registered number and password
on PULSE is recorded. During an Audit or Investigation procedure
they may be asked to account for the reasons they accessed a particular
individual's data at any given time and what they did with it afterwards.
An Garda Síochána will ensure that appropriate data protection and
confidentiality clauses are in place with any processors of personal
information on its behalf.
4.5 Keep Data accurate, complete and up-to-date
Apart from ensuring compliance with the Acts, this requirement has an additional importance in that An Garda Síochána may be liable to an
individual for damages if it fails to observe the duty of care provision in
the Acts applying to the handling of personal data.
To comply with this rule An Garda Siochana will ensure that:
clerical and computer procedures are adequate to ensure high
levels of data accuracy,
the general requirement to keep personal data up-to-date has been
appropriate procedures are in place, including periodic review
and audit, to ensure that each data item is kept up-to-date.
The Garda Information Services Centre ensures the accuracy of
using trained personnel to record incident details on PULSE
through sequential questioning of the Garda member having
regard to the requirements of the incident concerned,
reviewing each and every incident to a specified standard,
recording all phone calls from members of an Garda Siochána
in connection with the creation and updating of incidents
and comparing the information entered on PULSE with the
information on the recorded calls on an ongoing basis,
developing and operating a Quality Process to ensure call takers
and reviewers are operating to a high standard,
identifying areas where errors are most commonly made and
providing training to eliminate those errors,
in addition District Officers and Supervisors as part of their
Operational Functions monitor the details of incidents recorded
on PULSE on an ongoing basis.
Section 6 of the Acts gives a person a right to seek to have personal data
amended or erased where it can be shown that it is incorrect. Examples
of this are the updating of court outcomes to show the exact situation at
any given time and ensuring that all biographical data, especially name
and date of birth of a Data Subject is correct.
4.6 Ensure data is adequate, relevant and not excessive
An employee of An Garda Síochána can fulfill this requirement by
making sure they only seek and retain the minimum amount of personal
data needed for the specified purpose.
To comply with this rule each employee should ensure that the information
adequate in relation to the purpose/s for which it is kept,
relevant in relation to the purpose/s for which it is kept,
not excessive in relation to the purpose/s for which it is kept.
As an example, it is strongly suggested that members should stick to the
facts when recording all incidents and not record unsustainable remarks,
allegations or hearsay in relation to any incident or investigation.
Opinions, except where evidentially founded, should not be recorded.
A member should exercise discretion when seeking certain types of
information from a data subject in a public place, e.g. date of birth.
4.7 Retain data for no longer than is necessary for the purpose or
This requirement places a responsibility on An Garda Síochána to be
clear about the length of time data will be kept and the reason why
the information is being retained. To meet this requirement An Garda
Síochána will ensure that files are regularly purged and that personal data
is not retained any longer than necessary.
All electronic and manual data will be retained in line with the Garda
Commissioner's policy on records management in An Garda Síochána.
For the purposes of retention, Data will be categorised into essential and
non-essential files. Specific timeframes will be established in respect of the
retention of all data contained on such files within An Garda Síochána.
All members will be informed of policy in respect of data retention by
way of relevant Garda HQ Directives and shall ensure that all data under
their control is managed and retained in line with the Commissioner's
policy as established therein.
As an example, all investigation files and incident records regarding
Headline and Indictable Crimes and Incidents will be retained for 30
years as Departmental Records in line with the provisions of the National
Archives Act 1986. Decisions in respect of the further retention of such
files will be made on a case by case basis following the 30 year period as
4.8 Give a copy of his/her personal data to that individual, on
On making an access request any individual, about whom An Garda
Síochána keeps personal data, is entitled to:
a copy of the data being kept about him/her,
know the purpose/s for processing his/her data,
know the identity of those to whom the organisation discloses the
know the source of the data, unless it is contrary to public
know the logic involved in automated decisions,
a copy of any data held in the form of opinions, except where
such opinions were given in confidence.
An Garda Síochána has clear coordinated procedures in place to ensure
that all relevant manual files and computers are checked for the data in
respect of which the access request is being made.
To make an access request the data subject must:
apply to An Garda Síochána for access to their personal data under
section 4 of the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003,
give any details which might be needed to help identify him/her
and locate all the information you may keep about him/her e.g.
previous addresses, dates of incidents etc,
pay the appropriate access fee.
Every individual about whom a data controller keeps personal information
has a number of other rights under the Act, in addition to the right of access.
These include the right to have any inaccurate information rectified or
erased and the right to complain to the Data Protection Commissioner.
In response to an access request An Garda Síochána must:
supply the information to the individual promptly and within 40
days of receiving the request,
provide the information in a form which will be clear to the
ordinary person, e.g. any codes must be explained in ordinary
Where an access request is being refused, the reasons for the refusal of
the request must be clearly outlined to the Data Subject.
Method of Application
Requests for personal data should be made in writing on the prescribed
The Garda Central Vetting Unit,
Responding to Requests
Once a valid request is received (as above), An Garda Síochána must
reply within forty days, even if personal data is not held or an exemption
is relied upon.
N.B. When employees of An Garda Síochána receive queries and files
from the Garda Central Vetting Unit in respect of Data Protection
access requests they should ensure that they are responded to promptly
so as to enable the organisation to meet its obligations in respect of this
0 day rule.
Circumstances where Access to Personal Data may be denied
An Garda Síochána is not obliged to disclose information in response to a
subject access application if it identifies another individual. Information
about a third party can only be disclosed if:
the third party has given consent to the person making the request;
in certain circumstances it is reasonable to disclose the information
without the consent of the other individual.
In these circumstances, due regard will be given to a balance of interest of
the parties concerned. In any event every effort will be made by An Garda
Síochána to supply personal data in a redacted format to the requesting
Information may also be withheld where its release as part of an access
request may be prejudicial to the investigation, detection or prevention
of a crime. Where the release of such information would no longer be
prejudicial to the above it will be released to a data subject.
Where An Garda Síochána is of the view that the release of personal data
to a data subject as part of an access request may have a negative impact
on the physical or mental health of a person it will be released to the
person's General Medical Practitioner in the first instance.
Requests Made on Behalf of Another
Subject Access Requests can be accepted from a child if, in the opinion
of the Garda Commissioner, the child has sufficient intellectual ability to
understand the nature of the request.
A parent or guardian can exercise the right, and receive the reply, if:
the child does not have the intellectual ability to understand the
nature of the request, and
the parent is acting in the best interests of the child and there
is no information to suggest that the parents of the child are in
dispute and where such release would be appropriate. An access
request on behalf of a child will not be acceded to if it would
likely be relevant to any ongoing abuse/welfare allegations that
may involve the requester.
An Garda Síochána may receive subject access requests by agents such
as solicitors acting on behalf of an individual. The Garda Commissioner
will satisfy himself as to the identity of the agent and seek sufficient
information about the individual he is acting for, to assist in establishing
identity and locating the data sought.
The Garda Commissioner will seek written confirmation from the
individual authorising the agent to make the request. All responses will
normally be sent directly to the Data Subject at their home address as
provided. Where a request is made for the information to go to a place
other than the individual's home address, the relationship between the
individual and the agent, will be a factor in determining whether to
comply with the request. e.g. Client/Solicitor.
Disclosures issued under the Data Protection Acts to Data Subjects
should not be construed as Garda Vetting, Character Reference, Security
Clearance or any interpretation of same.
5. AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY
The Garda Commissioner
Ultimate responsibility for the compliance of each employee of An
Garda Síochána with the Data Protection Acts rests with the Garda
The Garda Commissioner will be responsible for:
overseeing the management of data protection matters within An
ensuring that reporting lines exist to allow other employees of An
Garda Síochána to raise matters relating to data protection at a
managing the Organisations statutory obligations in respect of
the Data Protection Acts including; compliance with the Data
Protection Principles, registration with the Data Protection
Commissioner and securing individuals rights under the Acts,
maintaining an up to date knowledge of Data Protection legislation
and general developments in other relevant areas (e.g. Freedom
of Information Act) and to ensure that this Code of Practice is
disseminated and adhered to throughout the Organisation,
promoting data protection awareness through training, policy
development, advice and guidance, ensuring that operating rules
and general policy guidance in support of this Code of Practice
and all matters relating to the Acts are available to all staff,
ensuring information and systems comply with the Data Protection
Principles and that appropriate security arrangements exist to
protect data, including where necessary, that suitable contracts
are drawn up relating to the processing of data held for An Garda
Síochána by third parties. e.g. processing for fixed charge penalty
investigation and resolution of complaints made in relation to personal data and to assist where appropriate in the investigation
of disciplinary and criminal matters,
providing for liaison on all data protection matters between An
Garda Síochána and the Data Protection Commissioner.
All employees of An Garda Síochána
All employees of An Garda Síochána have a duty to ensure compliance
with the principles of Data Protection as set out in Chapter 4 and will
undertake to follow the provisions of this Code of Practice in accordance
with Garda policy and procedures.
All employees of An Garda Síochána are charged with the responsibility
of ensuring that all data that they access, manage and control as part of
their daily duties is done so in accordance with the Data Protection Acts
and this Code of Practice.
Employees found in breach of the Data Protection Rules may be found
to be committing an offence under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and
2003; the Garda Síochána Act 2005; the Garda Complaints Act 1986 and
An Garda Síochána Discipline Regulations. Furthermore such members
may be exposing themselves and the organisation to litigation from an
All current and former employees of An Garda Síochána, will be held
accountable in relation to all data processed, managed and controlled by
them during the performance of their duties in An Garda Síochána.
6. AUDITS OF DATA PROTECTION PROCEDURES WITHIN
AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA
To ensure the quality of data retained by An Garda Síochána, and that
access to and usage of such data is appropriate within the terms of this
Code, each District Officer will, as part of his/her quarterly inspection
and audits in line with the Garda Commissioner's policy, examine data
under the headings of Quality Control; Data Accuracy; Access to Data;
and Usage of Data.
In addition to this, the Garda Professional Standards Unit will conduct
examinations and reviews of Data Protection procedures as part of their
ongoing examination and review process.
Furthermore, external audits of all aspects of Data Protection within An
Garda Síochána may be conducted on a periodic basis by the Office of
the Data Protection Commissioner.
7. ENFORCEMENT OF DATA PROTECTION LEGISLATION
Data Protection Commissioner
The Act establishes the independent office of Data Protection
Commissioner. The Data Protection Commissioner is appointed by
Government and is independent in the performance of his functions.
The Data Protection Commissioner's function is to ensure that those who
keep personal data in respect of individuals comply with the provisions
of the Data Protection Acts. In furtherance of this function, the Data
Protection Commissioner will also have responsibility for monitoring the
implementation of this Code of Practice.
The Data Protection Commissioner has a wide range of enforcement
powers to assist him in ensuring that the principles of Data Protection
are being observed. These powers include the serving of legal notices
compelling a data controller to provide information needed to assist his
enquiries, or compelling a data controller to implement a provision of the
The Data Protection Commissioner also investigates complaints made
by the general public in relation to personal data and has wide powers in
this area. He can, for example, authorise officers to enter premises and to
inspect personal information kept on computer or relevant filing system.
Members of the public who wish to make formal complaints in respect of
breaches of the Data Protection Acts may do so by writing to the office
of the Data Protection Commissioner, Station Road, Portarlington, Co
Any member of the public with a more general complaint in relation
to the behaviour of a member of An Garda Síochána should address
their complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. More
information in this regard may be found at www.gardaombudsman.ie.
Individual Gardai in the normal course of their duties are not empowered
to investigate breaches of the Data Protection Act(s). Members of the
public who report breaches of the Data Protection Act(s) to individual
members of An Garda Síochána should be referred to the office of the
Data Protection Commissioner as outlined above or to access further
information at www.dataprotection.ie.
Where employees of An Garda Síochána, in the normal course of their
duties, become aware that an individual including employees of An Garda
Síochána may be breaching the Acts or have committed or are committing
an offence under the Acts, they should report the matter through normal
communication channels to Assistant Commissioner, Crime & Security.
A data controller found guilty of an offence under the Acts can be fined
amounts up to €100,000, on conviction on indictment and/or may be
ordered to delete all or part of a database if relevant to the offence.
All files requesting advice and assistance on data protection issues within
An Garda Síochána should be directed to the Assistant Commissioner,
Crime and Security, Garda Headquarters.
Garda Central Vetting Unit :
Phone No 0504 27300
Fax No 0504 27373
Garda Website: www.garda.ie
Data Protection Commissioner:
Phone No 1890252231
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The uniform of the Garda Siochana does not
have badges and patches like other Police forces. Accordingly
badges and patches are not available from the webmaster.